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By Athena McKenzie

“I think everybody has a different view of what they think ethical is ... Often it’s determined from the consumer’s point of view and whatever they think the important ethical choices are.” — Trish Tacoma smokinglily.com

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thically minded clothing has evolved far from its clichéd origins of patchwork skirts and burlap overalls. Looking globally, superstar designer Stella McCartney is known equally for her ultra-luxe runway creations as for her eye to sustainability. Closer to home, Vancouver has its own Eco Fashion Week with its mandate to push the trade towards practices that balance ecology, society and culture. Luckily for those of us here on the Island looking to be more mindful with our fashion choices, the area is home to several designers who make buying socially conscious style a sartorial win. Let’s call it the 100-Mile Wardrobe. WHAT’S IN A LABEL? Of course, the term “ethical fashion” can mean a variety of things, depending on whom you’re talking to, especially if it’s a designer. The description can cover a range of issues including environmental considerations, working conditions, production locations, child labour, fair trade and sustainability. “I think everybody has a different view of what they think ethical is,” says Trish Tacoma, owner of Smoking Lily. “If you’re producing everything in environmentally friendly or sustainable fabrics, or your impact on the environment, or how you treat your employees. Often it’s determined from the consumer’s point of view and whatever they think the important ethical choices are.” Now approaching its 20th year in business, the Smoking Lily label has developed something of a cult following for its original designs and unique silk-screened prints. It’s known for mixing whimsy with functionality: the brand’s new fall line was inspired by the 85th anniversary of the Nancy Drew mystery series and used the sleuth’s sidekicks — the voluptuous Bess and the tomboy George — as its muses. For Tacoma, making decisions about the direction of the brand — be it using only environmental fabrics or where to source material — balance is key. “I find it really hard to be hard-nosed about something or to decide that I’m only going to be one type of thing,” she says. “It’s just doing what you can.” That said, the values listed on the creative board in her light-infused office overlooking Wharf Street include the mantras: “Minimize impact on the environment by using bamboo,

Fibres from Nature for Where We Live

GREENEST RETAIL BUSINESS ON VANCOUVER ISLAND

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YAM magazine  

Page One Publishing

YAM magazine  

Page One Publishing